Despite costly mistake Dale Earnhardt Jr. clinches spot in Chase

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a costly pit stop Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a costly pit stop Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Getty Images)

It wasn’t the type of outcome Dale Earnhardt Jr. hoped for in Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but a 12th place finish was good enough to lock NASCAR’s most popular driver in the season ending Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The trouble began early for Earnhardt. After starting 16th, he was penalized for speeding on pit road on lap 89 and sent to the tail end of the longest line on the restart. He was able to overcome that penalty though and using pit strategy was able to take the lead on lap 193.

Earnhardt held the lead until lap 206 when eventual race winner Denny Hamlin wrestled past him for the top spot. Earnhardt was able to hold onto to second until he pitted during a caution on lap 224. In the ensuing laps Earnhardt remained in position to contend in the closing stages. On lap 346 however, his hopes for a win were dashed by a mistake of his own doing. MORE>>>

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.